Alfonso Hernandez recalled growing up in a little town in Venezuela with a population of about 500,000 people, but still knowing what the Astrodome was due to seeing so many monumental moments on TV — including Nolan Ryan pitching his fifth no-hitter at the “super iconic” stadium on Sept. 26, 1981.
What a young Hernandez may not have seen coming is having a chance with other architects to re-envision the Astrodome 15 years after the former Houston Astros’ and Houston Oilers’ stadium closed.
“That’s a big piece of history,” Hernandez, who works for the global architectural design firm, Gensler, told the Houston Chronicle about the stadium on Saturday. “It’s a big deal.”
The group of architects participated in a competition held by the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers called the “Lowdown Showdown.”
Hernandez, University of Houston assistant professor Mili Kyropoulou and other architects from Houston and around the country contributed to the reimagining of the Astrodome.
The concept for which they won first place in the competition includes the Astrodome having an indoor public street with a botanical garden, 77,000- square feet for retail space, a 500-room hotel, a promenade connecting to light rail and a 68,000 square feet immersive museum that would use augmented reality to show and recreate the stadium’s 50-plus years of history.
You can see the winner and runnerup of the contest here, along with more details about their presentation. It sounds like a great idea, one of many fine ideas about What To Do With The Astrodome in the last decade or so. Until there’s a plan to pay for one of them, that’s all they are.